After each Ohio state game during the 2021 football season, LGHL will offer its market analysis of the Buckeyes’ performance. Using a standard bond scoring system, we will rate offense, defense and special teams, according to this formula:
AA (yes, I can also use + and -): Very strong
BB: Dealing with major uncertainty
Next, we’ll take a look at the individual players whose performances stood out (one way or another!).
Well, there is no doubt that it really matters who you are playing. And there is no doubt that Akron is a very bad team. I don’t remember seeing a major college game where receivers dropped so many passes or defensemen just stepped up on the guys running near them with the ball. I’m not a gamer (usually), but when I saw that initial 50-point gap, I thought “not possible”. I thought Akron, despite their bad reputation, would score at least 14 points, and the Bucks, with a new quarterback, probably weren’t going to put in 65 to cover. Certainly not.
I was wrong. This game was fun to watch, exactly what we all wanted: a real blast. We saw a lot of freshmen playing for the first time and playing well. The two most amazing statistics for me?
Buckeye’s defense racked up nine sacks after getting just four in the first three games. And possession time: Akron, 36:40; OSU, 11:20 p.m. When you score as quickly (and as often) as Ohio State, possession time is vastly overestimated, but still an interesting contrast.
Your offense does something good when your team is scoring 59 (yes, I know the defense had seven) points, gaining 622 yards, and averaging 10.2 yards per game. Against the Zips he did a lot well, with a variety of players and combinations. Starting quarterback Kyle McCord started pretty badly. After TreVeyon Henderson ran for 12 yards in the Bucks’ first offensive play, McCord threw three consecutive incomplete passes. They were not closed and the receivers were open. Oh no. Not quite an emergency that would require bringing Stroud back, but a cause for concern, especially after Akron ran 55 yards for a touchdown on his next possession.
But McCord settled in well, completing 11 of 12 passes for 229 yards (15.3 average) and two touchdowns during the remainder of the first half. He had help. The line played well. Garrett Wilson and Jaxon Smith-Njigba did some big catch-and-runs, and Henderson played like Henderson.
At halftime, the score had the Bucks up 38-7. The game was over. In the second quarter, the OSU offense edged Akron 170 yards to 27; in the third quarter, with some starters still in the game, the Buckeyes edged the Zips 219-30. In the red zone, Ohio State was seven for seven with six TDs and a field goal. Domination – finally.
I liked the way the litters were evenly distributed. Miyan Williams had nine, Henderson and Master Teague had eight each, and freshman Evan Pryor in his first acting had five. All of them ran hard and had good averages behind a top line.
Emeka Egbuka (what a race!), Marvin Harrison Jr. and Jayden Ballard all had their first receptions of the year. A small problem: for the second game in a row, Chris Olave was almost absent, with two catches for 12 yards. Like I said last week, he needs to get more involved in the offense as the competition gets tougher. Maybe a little soft, but we’ve been waiting for a while, so it’s hard not to give the offense high (bearing in mind, of course, the level of competition).
Overall rating: AA Very strong
There were monsters on the defensive line: Tyleik Williams, Haskell Garrett, Jack Sawyer. They stopped Akron’s running game from the start and the Zips finished with just 76 rushing yards on 40 carries, for a meager average of 1.9 yards per play. Most of the rushing yards were scrambling from the Zips’ nimble quarterback DJ Irons, who slipped a few tackles and gained a few yards.
The Bucks’ pass defense finally looked good. Akron had just 153 passing yards for the game and Irons threw two interceptions. As noted above, OSU got Akron quarters for nine sacks. It was really good to see so many red shirts in the backfield of the opponents.
At the end of the first quarter Akron really couldn’t do anything on offense. They ended up kicking eight times and averaged just 3.1 yards per play for the 74 games they ran. In addition to playing on the defensive line, Teradja Mitchell and Cody Simon played well as linebackers. (Even Tommy Eichenberg got a rushed QB), and it was satisfying to see Steele Chambers and DeMario McCall play well in their new positions.
Overall, this is the defense we’ve wanted – and expected – all season. Let’s see what happens next week against Rutgers and in the weeks to come.
Overall rating: AA Very strong
Again, the kicking game was solid. Akron, apparently decided not to return kicks, believing that a good hold was their best option. Noah Ruggles landed all of his kicks, including a basket. Jesse Mirco kicked three times and averaged 46.3 yards per kick. Still waiting for a big game on special teams.
Overall rating: A Strong
Tyleik Williams: For the second week in a row, Williams excelled on the defensive line, with six tackles and two sacks. I love this guy: his energy, his killer instinct.
Haskell Garrett: He is back. Akron’s bloodline couldn’t handle Garrett. He plugged the midfielder into running games and was quickly the quarterback in passing situations. OSU will need him to continue to bring his A-game as the season progresses and the offensive lines improve.
Ronnie Hickman: I’ve watched Hickman’s pick-six a dozen times and still can’t see how he gets the ball back. Magic. Hickman is another energetic player who needs to be on the pitch. With more experience, he will be very good.
Jaxon Smith-Njigba: Leading the team in receptions against Akron (and now returning the punters?), Smith-Njigba is quickly becoming a go-to receiver. His effort on the touchdown was a thing to see. It would not be denied.
Garret Wilson: Only four catches – but for 124 yards. Great game guy. ‘Nuf said.
Kyle McCord: His first series worried me. But I thought his performance after that (with the exception of the interception, of course) was pretty good, especially for a real freshman who sees his first time in play. Going 13/18 for 319 yards and one. averaging 17.7 per attempt on your first career move is pretty darn good.
Master Teague: I admit that I never really thought about Master Teague, but he grew up with me. He played well again; 71 yards on eight carries, averaging 8.9 yards per carry and two touchdowns. With his strength, he is a good complement to Henderson’s Speed.
Jack Sawyer: I wanted to see Sawyer play more. Against the Zips, he did. Three tackles and a sack might seem modest, but he’s shared with a lot of others. Promising certainly.
Not too much to complain about in this game. Except for the eight penalties. In that game, against this opponent, they didn’t matter much, but big penalties in crucial situations have been problems in all of Buckeye’s games so far. In it, a block in the back penalty canceled out a good punt return from Garrett Wilson at the end of the first quarter. A face mask penalty in the second quarter by Michael Hall gave Akron a first down after an incomplete pass would have forced a punt. And then two unsportsmanlike conduct appeals in the second half against Hall (again) and Jakailin Johnson were certainly unnecessary and could be costly in another context. I know they’re in first grade and excited to play, but they need a little discipline.